Fewer Antibiotics Make For Safer Meats
May 02, 2006
Australia's restrictions on antibiotic use in food animals could be connected to lower levels of drug-resistant bacteria in humans.
Australia has prohibited the used of certain antibiotics, called fluoroquinolones, in all food animals. Use of these antibiotics is standard in many other industrialized nations. Researchers examined the effects of these policies on Campylobacter jejuni, a leading bacterial cause of food-borne illness that has exhibited drug-resistant strains.
Campylobacter isolates were collected from almost 600 patients in five Australian states. Only 2 percent were resistant to ciprofloxacin, a type of fluoroquinolone. In countries that allow fluoroquinolone use in animals, the prevalence of drug resistance can be as high as 29 percent.
Other countries, such as Sweden and Norway, that prohibit the use of fluoroquinolones for food animals have also reported low incidences of fluoroquinolone-resistant Campylobacter. The U.S. FDA first proposed a ban on fluoroquinolones in poultry in 2000, but resistance from drugmakers resulted in the ban not being enacted until September 2005.